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5th Cycle National Metropolis Research Competition

Research Question

Integrative Capacity of Communities
The discourse on immigrant integration – in both academic and policy circles -- is rich with research on monitoring and measuring immigrant outcomes. Much is known about which human capital characteristics help immigrants to integrate. However, the conceptual and empirical work is nascent regarding the characteristics of host communities that best integrate newcomers. At the same time, there is significant evidence that points to a number of host society-related barriers to integration.

Although it has been difficult to agree on a precise definition of the integrative capacity of a community that receives immigrants, emerging research has identified a number of attributes that help communities to attract and retain immigrants. The successful integration of immigrants into a community traditionally includes a combination of economic, social, cultural, and political factors, such as employment opportunities, housing, social networks and access to services (e.g. health, language training, schooling and recreation). Many Canadian cities have active programmes to attract and retain immigrants to support a variety of economic, social and demographic goals. Whether an immigrant chooses to settle in a certain community or not depends on the relationship between the interests of the immigrant and the characteristics of the community.

It is well-known that some Canadian metropolitan areas receive much larger numbers of immigrants, refugees and minorities than other cities and communities. At the same time, there is significant secondary migration of immigrants once in Canada. Initial settlement patterns and the secondary migration of immigrants have implications for federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal policies, for providing settlement services and funding, making it crucial to understand better the factors that make some communities more successful at integration and retention than others.
This call for research proposals seeks an analysis of the integrative capacity of communities through the exploration of the factors that influence the ability of a community to successfully settle and integrate immigrants. Based on a representative sample of Canadian communities, this analysis should identify the factors that matter most for the host society side of integration, and, further, isolate those factors that are amenable to policy interventions to increase their integration benefits.

Proposals should:
A) Articulate an approach to defining and assessing the determinants of integrative capacity, showing how these determinants will be understood, and explaining whether some determinants are more important than others in light of the attraction and retention of immigrants. Moreover, it would be valuable for proposals to indicate whether there is an optimal combination of determinants that ensures an adequate integrative capacity of a community. Proposals should also articulate the level at which these determinants operate, be it community, city, provincial/territorial, or Canada as a whole.

It is suggested that proposals consider the effects of the following on the integrative capacity of communities: geographic/spatial concentration of immigrants, differences between rural and urban contexts, provincial and territorial differences, differences between official language minority and majority communities, age considerations, difference due to ethnic and religious minority contexts, and the role of immigrant category/class, immigrant generational status, immigrant family structures/units, and gender. Researchers are encouraged to study the integrative capacity of communities that receive immigrants through secondary migration.

B) Describe in detail the research methodology and sources of data for the study. Applicants are expected to build upon the existing conceptual work in this field and conduct their own empirical research, including, but not restricted to, surveys, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders across the country and at various levels of governance in the field of immigrant integration. The objective of the call is to produce a pan-Canadian research study as opposed to a case study or micro-analysis. It is hoped that the results of the study will take a form that can be used by communities in their efforts to enhance their abilities to integrate and retain immigrants.

C) Indicate as precisely as possible the policy linkages of the proposed research project, based on consultations with relevant policy-makers in federal departments associated with the Metropolis Project1; and with policy-makers at the provincial or municipal level. Where appropriate, applicants are also encouraged to indicate the specific implications of the research project for the concerns of, or for programs and services provided by, other relevant stakeholders (e.g., multicultural groups, NGOs and other immigrant serving groups) based on direct consultations and/or involvement with these stakeholders. Letters of support from the above-mentioned organisations are recommended.

1 Metropolis federal partners include Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Safety Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Department of Justice, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canada Economic Development – Québec, FedNor and the Rural and Cooperative Secretariats of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

To Apply: Click here for application forms available on the SSHRC website.

Submission deadline: October 11, 2011

If not already affiliated, successful applicants must seek affiliation with one of the five Metropolis Centres of Excellence. To affiliate with one of the five Centres please visit the following sites:

• AMC:
• QMC: - click on “To Contact the Centre” for more information.
• OMC: - click on “General Information”, find About the Centre,
   click on “CERIS Affiliation”
   Click on “Apply for Affiliation with the PMC”
• MBC:


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